Mark Lee shocked by daughter’s question: “Why do you only love jie jie?”

The veteran entertainer’s real and reel lives intertwine as issues with favoritism takes the hot seat

Mark Lee shocked by daughter’s question: “Why do you only love jie jie?”
Mark Lee shocked by daughter’s question: “Why do you only love jie jie?”
14 Feb 2018

Mark Lee shocked by daughter’s question: “Why do you only love jie jie?”

Video: Aaron Ho

It’s no secret that Mark Lee’s favourite child is his oldest, Calista, 10 – after all, the veteran entertainer and his wife, Catherine, waited eight years for their first child to be born.

Back in 2016, Mark told us about the time when his son, Marksonn, 7, asked him the shocking question, “Why do you only hit me, but not jie jie (my older sister)?” The little boy, who was then all of 3-years-old, surprised his dad because he could ask this question at such a tender age, and according to Mark, he’s made baby steps to ensure that he displays his favourtism much less, especially in front of his kids (more on that later).

This real-life problem somehow made its way into his reel-life as well, as Mark reprised his role as the less-favoured child, Robert, in the Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei movie. The family, which comprises of their Ah Gong (played by Henry Thia, who also takes on the role of Lion King), Liang Xi Mei (played by none other than Jack Neo), Robert (Mark Lee) and Albert (Benjamin Josiah Tan), go through all sorts of hijinks and tribulations when Liang Xi Mei’s favouritism pushes Robert to go all out to earn money as he feels that it’s the only way his mother will ever love him.

Without giving too much of the story away, the movie hopes to convey the message that the biggest fortune that one can receive and give is that of love, rather than material luxuries, something that the family learns the hard way when a gang of hoodlums, led by their hardened leader (played by Richie Koh) forces them to recount stories from their past that they never knew about each other, resolving decades-old misunderstandings in the process.

(Continued on next slide: The occupational hazards that come with cross-dressing, as told by Jack Neo)

The occupational hazards that come with cross-dressing, as told by Jack Neo
The occupational hazards that come with cross-dressing, as told by Jack Neo
14 Feb 2018

The occupational hazards that come with cross-dressing, as told by Jack Neo

Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei was shot in a little over a month, with Jack sharing with Toggle during an interview session held at the Intercontinental Singapore yesterday (February 13) that he spared no expense when it came to certain areas, such as the HDB flat that the Liang family resides in.

“We requested for the dimensions of the original flat in the series from Mediacorp so that we would be able to recreate it exactly,” he revealed. “We built it from scratch in an industrial area and spent about S$200,000 on it and tested it from every angle to make sure that it looked exactly the same. We had to tear it down immediately after filming wrapped because rental was so expensive – what a pity!”

Putting on his falsies once again to reprise his role as Liang Xi Mei, however, does come with its occupational hazards as well. “During our recent promotional tour in Malaysia, we went to the night market and I don’t know why I headed to a stall selling lingerie and picked up a bra to check it out,” Jack chuckled. “Thankfully, I was dressed up as Xi Mei at the time, so the stall owner just looked at me but didn’t say anything about it.”

“But seriously, I don’t know how women can wear these things and find it comfortable – I’ve asked the team to help me get comfortable ones, but no matter which one I try, it somehow ends up poking me at one place or the other!” he continued.

(Continued on next slide: Richie Koh earns praise for his short but memorable performance)

Richie Koh earns praise for his short but memorable performance
Richie Koh earns praise for his short but memorable performance
14 Feb 2018

Richie Koh earns praise for his short but memorable performance

When asked about the actor he was most impressed with this time around, Jack mused that new face Richie is someone with a lot of potential. “He looks good regardless of what angle you film him from. He’s also very open to suggestions and is very professional, so all of us were really happy to work with him.”

In a separate interview, Richie smiled that he felt that given that this was the first time he worked with Jack, he needed to “be even more focused when I’m on set, especially since I’m unfamiliar with how the director’s working style is like. I’d listen to him a little more attentively, but of course, I know when to joke around as well.”

The 24-year-old shared that he filmed an audition clip when he was still in China working on his first movie, and drew inspiration from Hong Kong dramas and movies to channel his inner bad boy. “I felt that some on-screen villains in Singapore are quite two-dimensional. They show their evilness by talking extra loudly, or laughing in a certain way. I wanted to try to show something different, so this time around, I thought that channeling this through my gaze would be a more effective method for this particular role,” Richie explained.

And it seems that his hard work paid off, as the other cast members also heaped their praise on the rising star. Despite having a short stint in this production, we’ll vouch that Richie’s performance left a lasting impression on us. Colour us impressed.

(Continued on next slide: How Mark Lee is managing his favourtism at home)

How Mark Lee is managing his favourtism at home
How Mark Lee is managing his favourtism at home
14 Feb 2018

How Mark Lee is managing his favourtism at home

Now, back to the issue of Mark’s favouritism at home.

Having acknowledged and admitted that he has this problem, Mark mused, “To be honest, it’s impossible to be completely unbiased when it comes to treating your children. I know that I’m biased towards my eldest, but I’ve been doing my part to try to make sure that the two younger ones don’t feel that way.”

“For example, I used to run to Calista’s room once she started crying, but these days, I treat them all equally and try to stay where I am regardless of who’s making a fuss. However, there’s still that involuntary action when I lift my butt off the chair, but before I can run over, I stop myself and sit back down again,” he chuckled.

Despite his best efforts, it seems that Calynn, who turns 5 this year, could still sense something was amiss. “She asked me something really shocking before her 4th birthday last year,” he shared. “She said, ‘Daddy, why do you only love jie jie?’ I was so surprised – especially when it was a 3-year-old who said this!”

His response to his youngest was, “No, daddy loves all three of you!” and he has since ramped up his efforts to ensure that his little ones all feel loved. He chuckled, “One way I’m doing this is not buying them any toys any longer. I know all their favourite colours, so if I want to buy toys for them, it means I need to buy three sets in three different colours so that they can all get one. That’s why I decided that I won’t buy any at all! It’s fair this way, right?”

Click on for more photos of the Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei press conference!

With Chinese New Year around the corner, the cast had a lou hei session after the press conference
With Chinese New Year around the corner, the cast had a lou hei session after the press conference
14 Feb 2018

With Chinese New Year around the corner, the cast had a lou hei session after the press conference

Huat ah!

Jack revealed that his goal this time around is to "beat Liang Po Po in the box office"
Jack revealed that his goal this time around is to "beat Liang Po Po in the box office"
14 Feb 2018

Jack revealed that his goal this time around is to "beat Liang Po Po in the box office"

Liang Po Po: The Movie earned S$303 million in the box office back when it was released, and Jack, immersed in his Liang Xi Mei persona, chuckled that "doing better than that old lady so that she'll stop showing off is enough!"

The cast gives us their best 'finger heart' pose
The cast gives us their best 'finger heart' pose
14 Feb 2018

The cast gives us their best 'finger heart' pose

The movie will be screened in 50 theatres in Singapore and over a hundred in Malaysia and Brunei combined on its opening day

L-R: Ryan Lian, Noah Yap, Apple Chan and Richie Koh along with their young cast-mate
L-R: Ryan Lian, Noah Yap, Apple Chan and Richie Koh along with their young cast-mate
14 Feb 2018

L-R: Ryan Lian, Noah Yap, Apple Chan and Richie Koh along with their young cast-mate

The young boy plays Robert's (Mark Lee) son in the movie

Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei opens in cinemas on February 15.

WATCH: Mark Lee: My youngest daughter thinks that I don’t love her!

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